The Yamas & One-Night Stands: A Yogi Perspective on Sex.


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I’ve always been the girl who felt uncomfortable with one-night stands.

But being a single, adult female, I quickly learned that my standards of needing a relationship before sex were, well, old-school. Not putting out within the first three dates is a guaranteed way to not hear back from a potential mate. Instead of giving into society’s new norm of casual sex, I found another way to feel fulfilled and still play the game of adult dating.

Now, sometimes casual sex is great. (Okay, a lot of the time.) But dating in my early 20s is a scary, muddy puddle that I’m supposed to just know how to swim. Naturally.

After a few bad fish, I had to ask myself, “How can I get what I want and still make sure I leave the other person better than I found them and without compromising my true feelings?”

As a yoga teacher, I use the eight limb path of yoga as general life guidelines. The yamas are the ethical principles that detail how to show up and play our part in life.

The yamas are:

>> Do no harm
>> Do not lie
>> Do not steal
>> Do not waste
>> Do not hoard

Sounds a little familiar, huh?

On the surface, they seem clear. It’s important to not lie or steal—we’ve all been told that. But when we look at these rules as a reference on how we approach the subject of sex, we can use them to make it better. So much better.

1. Do no harm. Live life without hurting anyone and we’re good, right? Well, we’re halfway there. We need to treat every single person with compassion, even a potential date. That includes how we talk to them, about them, and how we think of them. Our thoughts can be little judges with loud voices and they shape our interpretation of people and events. Though they may be little, they have an influence on our behavior.

We have all heard the tales of the woman scorned and how she struck revenge on the guy who never called her back. I have too many of my own stories like that, I’m ashamed to admit. I can’t count on all of my fingers or toes the times I have treated a man poorly in my thoughts. I would find myself degrading and cursing a man who didn’t make me a priority right away. But I’d always end up angry and miserable—not them.

I was the one suffering for how I interpreted their behavior and I let it eat me alive. Then, I would turn my anger toward them and want to make them feel as low as I did. In my mind, it was all their fault.

When we only see the worst and expect to find happiness from it, it’s a losing battle before we even begin.

2. Do not lie. Only speaking the truth seems easy, but looking through the lens of dating, it’s a little harder to live out. Speaking the truth means literally speaking your truth. Not in a way to hurt someone (do no harm), but instead saying exactly how we feel. That includes putting up boundaries when necessary.

Living this out meant I needed to stop people pleasing and put my foot down when the situation wasn’t serving me any longer. Pity dating is a thing, and we don’t want that. Sleeping with people because we feel obligated is another.

I’ve caught myself on multiple occasions dreading turning down a man, to only find myself still accommodating this guy who never should’ve gotten a second date in the first place. Sometimes, we put up with people to avoid hurting them, but who we really hurt is ourselves. We’re lying to them when we make them believe we’re interested, when in reality, we’re waiting for the perfect opportunity to cut ties and bail.

If we live true to ourselves, we won’t be burdened with regret because we won’t let anyone step over our boundaries without being invited in.

3. Do not steal. This isn’t only rooted in the physical realm, it also includes the time and attention of another human. Demanding another’s time when it isn’t freely given to us is stealing. An example is requesting a date one night with the assumption that they would rearrange their schedule for us, and if they didn’t, throwing a fit including a top-notch guilt trip.

Making another human feel bad that they can’t bend to our will at any given time is stealing.

When sex wasn’t freely given to me, I was upset. I would stomp my feet, demand a reason why, and not give up until my partner would concede. Thinking about it now makes my stomach churn. I stole their time and attention when it wasn’t offered to me for my own pleasure. I wasn’t honoring them.

I can tell you, I never left the next morning feeling good. Instead of assuming that sex was mine for the taking with anyone who was interested in me, now I wait until it’s freely offered to me. When sex is freely offered, I can now gladly accept (if I wish) and enjoy the connection. We are capable of putting an end to the shame cycle when we only take what’s given and only give when we want to as well.

Sex is for pleasure and should be treated as a gift, not an expectation.

4. Do not waste. Becoming aware of how and when we use our energy is the first step to understanding how we efficiently waste it. Do we use our energy actively pursuing a man to get him in bed? How many times have we found ourselves stalking a potential date and trying to fit the puzzle pieces together to answer why they haven’t texted us back yet?

How often do we waste our sexual energy because we think it has been too long since we were last intimate and end up giving it up for a one night fling?

I have spent hours, days, and even years of my life focusing on a guy who was clearly not right for me. I would spend my time figuring out what a man wanted and how I could deliver because I needed the attention—and a good lay. I thought I would be fulfilled if I spent the night with the bad boy unworthy of my heart.

When we use sex to connect with someone, we are using our sexual energy correctly. Controlling our lust leads to sexual fulfillment. Sex won’t feel like a need anymore—it’ll be a want. Instead of searching for the player of the evening who can read our bodies like a book, we can use our time to find someone worthy of exploring the deepest parts of us.

We’ll know when we’re making love to the right person if we feel connected more to ourselves after.

“Do you need me or do you need someone? There is a difference.” ~ Rupi Kaur

5. Do not hoard. Instead of holding on to expectations, we can let go. Whatever an experience meant doesn’t have to mean more than what it was. That means digging into the archives of how someone hurt us, loved us, how it made us feel, and throwing it all out. Stop the fight with overthinking and just be.

It means taking only what we need and nothing more. Letting the weight fall off leaves us open to the joy that comes naturally. We can experience intimacy as it is without expecting more and leaving disappointed. How beautiful it is when we can just enjoy what is coming to us, and when it’s time to leave, let go.

“I have what I have and I am happy. I’ve lost what I’ve lost and I am still happy.” ~ Rupi Kaur

One-night stands are not for me. I have no desire to leave a sexual encounter feeling empty and unsure of what it means. Instead, I’m free to enjoy whatever love I may find. With clear guidelines of how I should conduct my sex life, I know I can meet a potential lover and not lose myself in them.

I can only honor what is given to me and I can only take what is given. I can let go of what doesn’t fulfill me and stay open for what does. With a whole heck of lot less heartbreak and a whole lot more happiness.

I hope you will too.


author: Elizabeth Randall

Image: Jan Zhukov/Unsplash

Editor: Naomi Boshari

Relephant bonus:

The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out For.


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crimson.daybreak Jan 11, 2019 4:42pm

So i just finished this article. I absolutely loved it i would like all my single friends to read it, its very hard to be a female that wants genuinity- we dont want them to worship us, specially when it’s new and we have just started seeing them. But we want 100 percent of that honesty. I would accept if a man is unsure or not ready, most of the times i want things to grow organically, i just wanna know where we are at. I am at fault for #3 definitely and some of #1. and thats Because its all abouttt meee. This article has given me an insite on what kind of toxicity i bring into my intimate relationships. This article is absolutely lovely.

    crimson.daybreak Jan 11, 2019 4:43pm

    Very hard to be a female in todays dating scene and that to find genuinity *

Louis D. Lo Praeste Dec 7, 2018 5:57pm

Very honest, and well thought out writing. I appreciated this article and your lucidity.

Alyson Follenius Dec 7, 2018 11:53am

I relate so much to what you wrote. Finding myself newly single, and in my late twenties when my engagement broke off, I was torn by the idea of casual sex. However, as I looking inward to understand some of the guilt and shame I felt around casual sex, I began to realize that I was attaching to some societal idea of it versus what I actually felt about it. It became empowering to enjoy my time with another person as long as there was mutual respect and understanding. I came to it from a very similar perspective. Thank you for this article and taking a positive spin on a topic that can often be perceived as taboo. Much love.

dechenthurman Dec 6, 2018 4:45am

Very good article! Interesting translation of the Yamas, especially #4 and #5. I think “do not hoard” is an outdated translation and that aparigraha is more about “no power” rather than “not-hoarding” or “greedlessness”. To have more than we need, when others do need is an indirect form of stealing and thus “hoarding” is already covered in asteya “do not steal”.
Graha means planet, or bonds of connection or gravity, so aparigraha means no favoritism based on social privileges or no attempts to play politics with yoga. So in your style I would translate #5 as “do not control”.
Aside from my preferences about translating the yamas I really liked the flow and sincerity of your article. Thanks for writing a sex-positive article for the yoga community. In general the conversations about sex are dominated by worst case scenario thinking. Alarmists and religious conservatives doling our massive amounts of shame and not coming to grips with their own desires to control others. I thought your article would approach this topic based on the title, yet I enjoyed your intention and how you formatted it within the character limit. Looking forward to your next article! Thank you.

ruth_fyffe2 Dec 5, 2018 5:30pm

Two words. Don’t agree. Just me though. Each to their own.

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 5:51pm

    Definitely! Thanks for reading!

Richard Ryan Dec 5, 2018 3:45pm

Interesting and well written article. I appreciate your perspective.

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 5:52pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read!

jess Dec 5, 2018 11:22am

interesting the title includes yogi – when you don’t mention the yogic sciences wisdom (I learned from Sadhguru) about why we want sex and what happens when we have sex with people on an energetic level. In fact some of your examples don’t align with yogic wisdom at all. I encourage you for the sake of humanity, yourself, your read and your students… Study classical yogic sciences with Sadhguru. He has a United Nations special designation and invited to speak at leading universities and medical schools around the world because he speaks from a science perspective.

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 12:28pm

    Thank you for your feedback. I couldn’t dive deep into the science behind sex because of character limit. I only focused on the Yamas and how I personally interpret them to help boost my sex. From my experience with yoga traditions, they’re open to interpretation and will be different person to person. I take what helps me and try to communicate it to others as another perspective. I’ll definitely look more into the yogic sciences wisdom you mention. Thank you for the suggestion.

susiev_18 Dec 5, 2018 10:09am

I’m not a fan of the tag bit at the end, “hope you will too”. That’s slut shaming.
I think it’s great for people to have different perspectives and different ways to live their lives- that’s what makes us unique. What is not okay is judging people who choose a different path. There is absolutely nothing wrong with one night stands, if that’s what turns your crank. Some of us enjoy sex not just to connect with a partner but instead just for the pure physical pleasure, and that’s just as okay as reserving sex for relationships.
Putting down other paths for other people is not enlightenment. Respect is.

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 12:25pm

    I appreciate your feedback wholeheartedly. When I finished with I hope you will too, the meaning was to have a sex that was meaningful for each individual. Not slut shaming by any means. Like I mentioned at the top of the article, casual sex is great! It’s just making sure we don’t lose ourselves in the process. Thank you for giving me the chance to clarify!

Vicki McKinney Dec 5, 2018 9:43am

Excellent article! Thank you ??

michael mitchell Dec 5, 2018 9:39am

Really enjoyed your thoughts. I’m older and of the belief that 2 people should use all their energy to get to really know each other. Especially the sexual energy, instead of acting on it , use it for courtship. Sex early on blocks the possibility of depth. A man respects a woman who respects herself. Sex is sacred and has a needed place in a living relationship.
Sex without love is just a sport and can be quite selfish. Real lasting relationships build a foundation first.
So much TV, movies and propaganda glorify sex early on but it could not be further from the truth.
I’ve learned the hard way. I wish I knew these things earlier- it would have saved me a lot of pain.

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 12:30pm

    Saving people from pain was definitely my goal with this! Thank you for feedback! I’m glad it reached you!

yusuf.govender Dec 5, 2018 5:27am

Wow this thought- provoking read is so meaningful and really makes sense

    Elizabeth Randall Dec 5, 2018 12:31pm

    Thank you very much! I’m glad it had meaning for you!

Sukriti Chopra Dec 4, 2018 10:52pm

Interesting and thought-provoking read. Enjoyed reading this.

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Elizabeth Randall

Elizabeth Randall is a writer, yogi, cat lover, and coffee connoisseur. She spends her days reading, dreaming, and crystal hunting. When she’s not out and about adventuring, you can find her snuggled up with her cat watching Disney movies. If you’d like to follow her story, you can connect with her on Instagram.